HC Deb 19 December 1988 vol 144 cc8-9
6. Mr. Dykes

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will express in terms of an index of real values the amount of pension received by a single pensioner and a married couple at the latest available date, and the comparable figure (a) two, (b) five and (c) 10 years ago.

Mr. Moore

Taking November 1976 as the base expressed as 100, the index by income units of retirement pension and income-related benefits, plus occupational pension, was, in 1981, 113.7, in 1984, 125.9 and in 1986, 133.6, respectively.

Mr. Dykes

My right hon. Friend and I can imagine what the index equivalent would have been in 1978 or 1979. Do not those figures speak volumes? Do they not show that, once again, when it comes to the aggregate deal that pensioners in this country receive, from Labour they get rhetoric and propaganda and from us they get real results?

Mr. Moore

I am delighted to say that I could not have expressed that better than my hon. Friend.

Mr. John Evans

Will the Secretary of State confirm that if the Tory Government had not scrapped the link between pensions and average national earnings, pensioners would be receiving a substantially greater sum than that which they now receive?

Mr. Moore

The hon. Gentleman seems to ignore the very point that my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) made—that the supposed support for pensioners while the Labour Government were in office meant that, on average, the pensioner had an increase—[Interruption.] It is relatively important to the pensioner. The pensioner had an increase of less than 3 per cent. during the whole period when the Labour Government were in office, compared with the 23 per cent. increase that they have already received under this Government.

Mr. Waller

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the achievement of a substantial increase in real terms is particularly significant in the light of the very considerable increase in the number of pensioners as a whole, which has resulted in a greater call on resources? Does my right hon. Friend also agree that, thanks to the substantial growth of the economy, the great majority of pensioners who are retiring now can look forward to a substantial income from the pension that relates to their former employment?

Mr. Moore

My hon. Friend is right. It is a fundamental mistake to fail to notice the extra 1 million pensioners who are, I am happy to say, living longer. It is also a mistake not to recognise the combination of benefits to which a pensioner is entitled, a combination that is so often ignored by the Opposition, who nearly destroyed for a whole generation of pensioners the work and the thrift that had been put into their savings.

Mr. Battle

Does the Secretary of State agree that when the pension increase to which he referred is coupled with the reductions in housing benefit, very many pensioners are worse off because their disposable income is much less?

Mr. Moore

Again that is utter nonsense. If it had been at the back of his question. I should have given the statistics to the hon. Gentleman, but I draw his attention to the appalling problem that pensioners faced over relative increases in housing benefit, along with rent increases, during the period when the Labour Government were in office. That was not, of course, his question, but I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not want to examine those figures with too much care because he would then realise how appalling was the Labour Government's record.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett

How does the value of pensioners' income in the United Kingdom compare with those of pensioners in the European Community as a whole?

Mr. Moore

Pensioners here do very much better than pensioners in most of the European Community countries. The pensioner in this country receives benefits on top of his basic state pension. If the Opposition had any interest at all in the real lot of the pensioner, they would understand that only two other nations in Western Europe offer to all pensioners a similar basic rate pension entitlement. It means that all pensioners here, especially the poor, have a basic pension, unlike those countries, quoted in bizarre literature produced by the Opposition, that do not offer to pensioners the same basic pension and where those on very low income, receive practically no pension at all. If those are the politics of the new Socialist party, heaven help the pensioners.

Forward to